As part of a brief critique of The Magic Mountain proposal, someone asked where the shape of the towers came from (see previous entry for sketch). I am making a small field of these welded steel towers. In the moment I stumbled over my words, trying to connect disparate thoughts. But these are all possible answers to the question “Why this shape?”:
1) I drew it in a previous sketch (…but where did that come from?) To be more clear, I changed the design a bit. The original had a square-shaped top but I found that the triangle was easier to balance, being on a 3-rod structure vs. 4. This is the pragmatic answer.
2) It’s connected to childhood memories of staring out the window in car-rides at dusk through Stark County. The Ohio terrain is long and flat except for the tall transmission towers…This is the psychoanalytic answer.
3) Mountainous Banff, Alberta, Canada. This is a place I lived and a place I don’t go a day without thinking about. Despite personal hell I still remember it as ideal. The Banff Centre=fundamentally transformative. This is the nostalgic answer.
4) It reminds me of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. Modern in feel, a retreat in the mountains, time stretched out. All things that converge in my piece. This is the literary answer.
5) And the blue glow that these towers will emit? That comes from the enjoyment I get out of seeing a glowing tv screen through a living room window. This is the voyeuristic answer.
How far back do you go looking for an explanation (“why this shape”)? If you don’t believe in free will (which I don’t) you hit a wall. I did not will myself to like radio towers, mountains, and glowing tv’s. These things just happen to intersect in my brain. I cannot take credit for my success or failure with this project; it’s really luck in the end if this thing does work out.
If this sounds like a depressing, hopeless way of looking at things, it is. In his book Free Will, Sam Harris makes a strong case that free will is merely an illusion. This book has stuck in my craw (in a good way?) since August 2012. Unfortunately I don’t think the consolatory section at the end ameliorates the angst bound to emerge while reading it. Thank god for art!
I see a tiny sliver of positivity in our lack of free will on my teaching blog.